Review of California Penal Code 664/187 PC Attempted Murder Charges and Best Defenses
California Penal Code 664/187 PC describes the crime of attempted murder as when someone has intent to kill another person, takes a direct step to kill them, but the victim survives.
Penal Code 187 PC defines the crime of murder, either a first or second-degree. Thus, an attempted murder under California law referred to as PC 664/187, which is the crime of “attempt” and the crime “murder.”
Intent to kill
The most important factor in an attempted murder case is the intent to kill. A reckless act sufficiently dangerous to human life could rise to a murder charge if somebody was killed, even if there was no intent.
PC 664/187 attempted murder, however, requires the specific intent to kill. Put simply, a defendant is not guilty of an attempted murder charge unless the prosecutor is able to prove they had a specific intent to kill someone.
The next crucial element of the crime is an attempted murder case is proving the defendant took a “direct step,” toward accomplishing the murder.
Put simply, it's not enough for a defendant to just have an intent to kill someone. They have to take some type of action to complete the goal before they can be convicted of attempted murder under Penal Code Section 664/187 PC.
A direct step is more than making a plan or plotting to commit the murder. In other words, a direct step is any action which would have led to the murder occurring, such as:
- shooting a weapon in the direction of victim,
- stabbing someone in the chest,
- paying a hitman to kill the victim, or
- any other action which would lead to the victim's death.
To give readers more detailed information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are reviewing the law below.
What are the Penalties for Attempted Murder in California?
Penal Code 664/187 attempted murder is a felony crime and typically results is one-half the sentient for a murder conviction.
Like murder, attempted murder comes in first and second-degrees. The penalties will vary according to which degree is proved. Attempted first-degree murder is punishable by:
- life in a California state prison;
- with the possibility of parole.
A defendant will be required to serve at least 15 years in prison if the victim was an on-duty police officer or firefighter.
Attempted second-degree murder is punishable by five, seven, or nine years in the state prison. Both degrees also carry a $10,000 fine.
A felony conviction will also result is loss of gun rights and will count as a “strike” under California's three strikes law.
There are also sentencing enhancements that adds more time to defendant's sentence, such as:
- Penal Code 186.22 PC – criminal street gang enhancement;
- Penal Code 12022.53 PC – 10-20-life using a gun and done law.
Is Negotiation with Prosecutor for Best Deal Possible?
This is a loaded question because the best deal you can get is a dismissal. Prosecutors evaluate the evidence. Sometimes we get them pre-filing. They look at the case and they decide not even to file it in the first place.
Or, if they do file the case, once they file the case, they end up deciding to dismiss the case. This is because maybe your criminal defense attorney brings up some points they didn't think about or some evidence that the police left out, which happens all the time.
This is because they are typically doing a one-sided investigation where they're only looking at evidence to try to prove that the person is guilty versus looking at all of the surrounding circumstances and taking everything into account.
So, the best deal would be a dismissal; the best deal would be a non-filing. But short of that, and most people looking through this website are not in a position where they can get that dismissal or non-filing and they're going to have to deal with the attempted murder charges.
This means either going to jury trial or by working out some sort of a deal, and that's what we're talking about here — what type of a deal can you get in an attempted murder case in California.
Can I Get Attempted Murder Reduced to a Lesser Charge?
The first one is you can get the charge reduced to something other than attempted murder, such as assault with a deadly weapon, or something that doesn't carry that 15 to life charge.
This is because a lot of times what you end up seeing is a situation where someone's charged with attempted murder and are facing 15 to life.
This gives the prosecutors a lot of power to negotiate because if you go to trial and you lose and they find there was premeditation and deliberation and you're convicted, then the judge has to give you a minimum of 15 to life depending on whether there's other charges filed. There could be more than a 15 to life charge.
Also, people don't realize there's a non-premeditation and deliberation charge where the person is not looking at 15 to life, but instead is looking at 3, 6 or 11 years.
Clearly, this is a lot better than a situation where they're facing life in prison and they have to serve 85% of 15 years before they're even eligible to try to get themselves out of custody.
Real Case Example of Penal Code 664/187 Attempted Murder
I just had a case where they originally offered my client 19 years. He was charged with two counts of attempted murder, allegedly.
He followed somebody, cut them off, came up to their car and fired a couple of shots into their windshield and there were two people in the car. One in the driver's seat and one in the passenger seat.
So, obviously, if they could prove that my client was the shooter, that's two counts of attempted murder — 30 to life. You've also got the weapon charge. So, he was basically looking at the rest of his life in prison.
After the 19 years, they dropped it down to 13 at the preliminary hearing and they said if your client doesn't take it before the preliminary hearing, we're going to take the 13 year offer away and put the 19 year offer back.
If he goes to trial and loses, he'll never come out again. What ended up happened was, after the preliminary hearing, we set the case for trial and they ended up making a 9 year offer which my client still didn't take.
I loaded the case up for trial. I filed motions trying to attack certain evidence that the prosecutors were trying to bring in and I think the prosecutors realized they were going to have a problem with the case because they had uncooperative witnesses and one of the top criminal defense attorneys in Los Angeles coming at them.
They ended up giving my client an assault with a deadly weapon — 4 years at half time — he already had a substantial amount of time in, so he will be out in less than a year. So, that's obviously a scenario where a great result occurred.
I can just keep going on and on with examples. I just tried another case in Riverside county. They were offering my client a pretty good deal. He was facing life in prison and the jury came back not guilty. So, anything can happen in these cases.
Criminal Defense for Attempted Murder Cases
What you really need to do is make sure you have a seasoned criminal defense attorney who knows what it takes to prove an attempted murder case, who can really evaluate the evidence that they have against you so the attorney can properly advise you.
I've been doing this for 30 years. I've battled many attempted murder cases all over the place. I know what it takes to win. I know when it's time to pack it in and work out a deal, and obviously, I know how to get the best deals for my clients.
Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.
Hedding Law Firm has two office locations in Los Angeles County, including 2049 Century Park E #2525 Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.